Sen. Smith tells law graduates to make a difference in their communities
October 08, 2001
U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith charged the 230 graduates of Lewis & Clark Law School to make a positive difference in their communities and their country.
“‘Government needs not only all the brains it has, but also all it can borrow,’” he said, quoting Woodrow Wilson.
Speaking during commencement, May 19, the senator asked graduates for a loan.
“Allow your government to borrow your brain, your heart, your conscience and your talent … to enrich the lives of others,” he said.
Referring to the nameless and selfless woodsman who saved the life of a young boy on the westward trail, Smith urged graduates to become like the woodsman by standing up in courthouses for what is right.
“You can also earn the title of woodsman … by involving yourself in what is occurring in our public schools, regardless of whether or not you have children in those schools.”
To those who will become members of the Oregon State Bar, he suggested they involve themselves in the Campaign for Equal Justice, “an innovative program that provides financial support for legal services to those in need.
“The fact is that we are a country founded on the rule of law,” he reminded graduates, “and everyone deserves to be treated fairly under the law, regardless of personal circumstances—rich or poor, powerful or humble.”
Noting that “the economic prosperity that hit much of the Willamette Valley this past decade missed most of rural Oregon,” Smith urged graduates to consider opening offices in these rural areas.
“There are counties where unemployment has reached 20 percent,” he said, and where “schools can only afford to be open four days a week.”
Smith is a member of four major Senate committees: energy and natural resources; foreign relations; budget; and commerce, science and transportation. He is particularly interested in education, health care and natural resources. Smith has taken the lead to increase funding for Federal Pell Grants, early childhood development and students with disabilities.
The senator received an honorary doctor of laws degree at commencement.
In addition, James Huffman, dean of the law school, and Douglas Newell, Edmund O. Belsheim Professor of Law, honored retiring professor Bill Williamson for his contributions to the law school.
Student speakers were Melissa Powers ’01 and Christine Tracey ’01.
Following commencement, Huffman honored the nearly 30 children of graduating law students at a special ceremony. The children received certificates and small mortar boards to recognize their own sacrifices and contributions to the success of their graduating parents.